Fall fishing is about to run into a temporary
stumbling block, but it won’t last long--especially if the usual fall rainy
season is on track.
It’s the falling leaves floating on the surface
of streams, rivers and some lakes, especially those bordered by trees and
It is almost time for the familiar old defoliation
season. That spells doom for anglers who use artificial lures, and, to
a degree, for those who use live or natural baits. And if you want to take
the scenario to the extreme, it also turns the water black (I have
done little good in trying to fish water that has been turned dark by falling
leaves). I have caught some fish under those conditions, but they were
mostly crappies and with live minnows for bait.
The falling leaves are a rustling signal for
the crappies to go on the feed, but one of the things my dad taught me
about outdoorsing is that bass--especially largemouth--will hit live, hard-shelled
crayfish (crawdads, or hard craws to Hoosiers) when foliage of the tamarack,
mainly a tree of the north, turns yellow in what would be late summer for
our country. Actually, said my dad, although the tamarack is typified as
a treeline “inhabitant,” they have been known to thrive in bogs and swamps
of northeastern Indiana.
How my dad became familiar with a tree I didn’t
know, I cannot say. But in the post-Depresion years, he seemed to know
of which he spoke. And in late September or early October he pinned his
bass-fishing hopes hope on live, hard craws hooked through the tail, suspended
below a bobber, and thus kept alive.
My dad’s rods and reels had been lost in a woodshed
fire and we fished with long ash poles with linen lines as long as the
poles. This allowed plenty of running room for bass. Soon after this fishing
lesson, my dad put me into bass fishing proper by buying me a South Bend
No. 450 bait casting outfit and a few artificial lures, chiefly the red
and cream-colored South Bend Bass-O-Reno of two sizes and a handful of
others. The SB Lures had been in the drugstore window so long the fly specks
could not be removed. But they worked, and they prodded me into what probably
would be hundreds of other artificial lures, all fish catchers.
Back to the problem of leaves on water.
Fishing artificials under these conditions is
tough going--leaves tend to foul the action of most lures. But if the angler
uses a pumping, jigging motion on the retrieve, he can keep a lure free
of leaves and that gives it a rising-falling motion that is good for all
fish. Fish often hit a lure when it is descending in the water. The strike,
in this case, may be noticed by a sideway motion of the line, as opposed
I use a Johnson Silver Minnow (one hook spoon)
most often with a dark braided line most often for this kind of fishing,
and allow it to flutter up and down two to three feet deep. Of course,
if there is natural underwater cover, I want my lure to pass close to it.
The spoon is dressed with a 20-tail, black and yellow Hawaiian Wiggler
skirt reversed. Reversed, it flows outward and flutters.
There are many other spoon-type lures, and as
Rocky Hauk, my bassin’ mentor, used to say: “They’ll all catch fish.”
However, lure selection goes a long way toward
success. Under floating-leaf conditions, a wobbly-spoon-type lure is the
best bet--most plugs and spinner baits are out, but they may work for short
casts. Plugs, especially, collect leaves. Spinners are clogged.
spite of the fact that our summer drought may have stiffled some forms
of natural production, I am seeing a few paw-paws
on my favorite bushes (trees), but fewer than usual . . . maybe enough
for a pudding or pie or two
. . . that pretty, white-topped flower you are seeing in shaded areas is
the white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum), a plentiful beauty . .
. The name comes from the bushy, snake-like root system. . . .